2010-03-12 02:00:32 UTC
Park Ridge's 'convertible lady'
GENEVA ZILLMER | 1911-2010: Retired teacher never without car of choice
since World War II
March 11, 2010
BY CHELSIA MARCIUS Staff Reporter
Geneva Zillmer took every opportunity to drive her yellow Chrysler
LeBaron -- and her favorite destination was a garage sale.
"She would go [to rummage sales] during the summer, because that's when
she could take the convertible," said her daughter, Carolynn White.
Searching for costume jewelry, paperback books and knickknacks, Mrs.
Zillmer enjoyed cruising the streets of Park Ridge. Residents saw her
out and about so much that they affectionately called her "the
Geneva "Neebe" Zillmer of Park Ridge died March 2 at Brighton Gardens in
Prospect Heights. She was 98.
Born in 1911 in Downstate Carbondale, Mrs. Zillmer graduated from
Southern Illinois University before marrying William Zillmer in 1940.
She moved to several cities during her husband's World War II service,
including to Carmel, Calif. And it was here that Mrs. Zillmer purchased
her first convertible.
"My mother has never been without a convertible since the war," White
said, noting that her mother had since owned several in various makes
Returning to Illinois in 1956, Mrs. Zillmer taught kindergarten in the
Park Ridge school system for more than 20 years -- and students, staff
and neighbors all knew Mrs. Zillmer for her sense of style as much as
her preferred style of car.
"She was a perfectly accessorized person," White said, adding that Mrs.
Zillmer's summer wardrobe included flip-flops, capris and the gold
chains she found at yard sales.
"My mother would carry a magnifying glass that she'd [use to determine
if the jewelry] was gold or not," White said. "She [also] loved to
collect little figurines, using them for a while before selling them
She frequently traded treasures among friends. "They loved to barter,
and they knew what each person's weakness was," White said.
Mrs. Zillmer enjoyed playing bridge and eating out, especially fondue.
She and her husband belonged to theater groups and often vacationed in
St. Croix in the Virgin Islands.
Her husband died in 2004, but Mrs. Zillmer remained active, driving her
trademark convertible after her 95th birthday.
She is also survived by her son, Ted Zillmer, and four grandchildren.
Visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Ryan-Parke
Funeral Home, 120 S. Northwest Hwy. in Park Ridge. A private memorial
service will be held at a later date.